I'm going through this very thing right now, and what I've learned so far is:
(some of this may seem super-common sense, but bear with me)
Hope this helps!
- The smaller the piece, the faster the drying process - which means that there's more potential for warping/checking. I've been reluctant to Anchor seal and such, as I'm afraid of prolonging the drying stage.
- The harder the wood, the more potential for cracking/checking. The box elder I've been working with is a fairly soft hardwood, so I've not been too concerned, but for harder stuff, I'd be careful about drying too fast.
- Buy a moisture meter right away (I got a digital percentage 4-prong one off Ebay that is working very well for $30, shipped. Compared to my brother's $400 Delmhorst (he's a basement waterproofer/concrete/block foundation reconstruction type), it's dead-on accurate. This thing allows you to monitor the drying process for speed, stress on wood and final 'turnability'. I've turned some at 15% moisture, and it seems like the 10% stuff is about perfect for finishing without ghosting
- You can accelerate drying in the microwave by nuking about 6 blanks for 30 seconds, let cool for 10 minutes and repeat. About 3 dozen times. Be careful, they'll catch fire if put in too long. I just nuke them long enough to bring the moisture out to the surface and then place them in front of a fan to evaporate.
- I aim to cut all my blanks to 1"x1". At only 5 1/2 - 6", at this girth, they can only warp so much, and even with a bent blank you can mill it down to 3/4"x3/4" and not lose your bushing profile.
- Make yourself a good drying rack, if you get any quantity of wood, you'll need the room. You can get a lot of blanks out of a 12"x6"x3" chunk.
- If you're taking them from raw trees, always chainsaw-rip a flat side to work with on circular and band saws. Round stock is really dangerous to work with on round, spinning blades.
"If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried." - Stephen Wright